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Pvt. Thomas Guida

305th Engineer Battalion, 80th Division

 

 

I got a request from the family of a friend of Pvt. Thomas Guida, who served with the 305th Combat Engineers and was killed in France on Sept. 5th 1944, for information about this man and the circumstances of his death.  For reference, I am including the events of that day, from my book, "Patton's Troubleshooters":

 

"Prior to the 5th of September reconnaissance in force was able to reach the Moselle River with little opposition. Plans were made for daylight crossing on the 5th. The site was Pont-a-Mousson.  The intelligence section spent the early days of August in reorganization to meet combat conditions.  A map depot was set up, and independent of the S-2 section for expeditious break down and distribution of maps to the division and attached units. An enemy map depot was captured near Argentan and it provided us with some excellent map coverage along with map cases and cabinets for use with Division Staff Sections.  Prior to 5th of September reconnaissance in force was able to reach the Moselle River with little opposition.  Plans were made for daylight crossing on the 5th.  The site was Pont-A-Mousson. However, no air or artillery support was provided. Rubber boats were to be used to ferry a small portion of CT 317 across. Six boats were available. Later it was planned to construct a heavy pontoon bridge.

 

However, by 1000 on the 5th September, the men had failed to cross the river. They were pinned down in the bend and succeeded only in crossing the canal.  The six rubber boats were destroyed by artillery fire. 20 men were casualties.  On the night of the 5th September a battalion was moved to Pagny where an attempt would be made simultaneous with a second attempt at Pont-a-Mousson.  The time was 0400.  At Pagny twenty boats were to be used. It was impossible to get the boats in the water.  However, it might have been possible to ford at this point. At Pont-a-Mousson thirty assault boats were to ferry the 3rd Battalion, 317th across.  One company and one platoon did get across, but at least one company failed to return.  The 30 boats were lost, riddled with artillery and small arms fire.  All the boats were either shot up or lost in the water.  Eleven Engineers were lost, either killed or wounded.  Some boats made three trips bringing the wounded back before being destroyed.  It was later ascertained that a dam below the crossing site had been opened which would speed up the current considerably.  The boats were pulled down stream and after failure of this attempt the 80th withdrew to the high ground to the west and commenced planning for an attempt to force a crossing against strong resistance."

 

In the beginning, we assumed that Thomas Guida had probably been killed in one of the engineer boats.  However, a witness to Thomas Guida's death has come forward, and the actual cause of death was explained to the family.  The details are as follows:

 

"I first met Tom Guida as I joined the 305th and 80th Division, as they were leaving California and Arizona from desert training.  We then trained at Fort Dix N.J., then we boarded the Queen Mary to Britain.  From Britain we crossed the English Channel on an LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) to Utah Beach on the Normandy Coast in July.  After about a week or so, near Argentan, France the U.S. Army had amassed a large number of troops to start the St. Lo breakthrough, thru hedgerows and on the East.  I was in the same squad and platoon with Tom- I drove a jeep for Co. B with Tom.  At the time we were still close to the coast, but in farm country.

 

The front lines were not set yet. It was wide open.  You weren't sure exactly where you were, as the Germans were on the run.  The C.O., myself and Tom Guida drove to the outskirts of a village.  We left the jeep and went on foot to the edge of a house with a vineyard on the left side.  The three of us knelt down in a ditch, all of a sudden Tom fell down to his right.  I saw a bullet hole in his left temple, but we heard no gunshot.  I had to tap the C.O. on his shoulder to let him know the shot had to have come from the vineyard.  The C.O. took off toward the Jeep and I followed him.  The G.R.S. (Grave Registration Service) recovered the body.  Tom is buried in the Edinol Cemetery in France near Nancy France.  I visited his grave twice.  The United States keeps all seven cemeteries in Europe in pristine condition."

 

Name Withheld For Privacy

305th Combat Engineers

 

 

If anyone else knew this man, or can help shed light on his wartime days, please contact the Webmaster and I will forward it to the family.  Thank you!

 

 

 

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